Nexus: Getting to the Root

You Must Get the Roots. Vintage illustration from the 1915 Griffith and Turner Co.: Farm and Garden supplies.
You Must Get the Roots. Vintage illustration from the 1915 Griffith and Turner Co.: Farm and Garden supplies.

Nexus: Where human rights, the environment, social justice, and the economy intersect. 

Environmentalists are well-versed in articulating the ecological crisis. We can speak of rising sea levels, topsoil loss, vast gyres of garbage in every ocean, loss of habitat and biodiversity, and much more. We also know that hundreds of years of extracting and burning the Earth’s resources is what is causing this crisis. So why haven’t we been able to stop it?

I think the answer is simple. We haven’t gotten radical enough yet. This isn’t some sort of call-out or condemnation of all the organizers and activists who have spent decades working tirelessly to protect the environment. This essay is an appeal to be real, and to get radical—in the literal sense of the word. “Radical” comes from the Latin radix, meaning the root. No matter how much we may try to legislate and manage extractive industry and resource consumption, we’ll never achieve sustainability until we get to the root causes of the destruction. And the root cause is the economic system that has come to dominate
the world: capitalism.

The logic of capitalism is simple: do whatever it takes in order to make a profit, and make sure your profits grow larger and larger. No matter how you attempt to manage capitalism, that fundamental drive remains. And that cannot be reconciled.

We must restructure our economic system if we are going to survive. We need a new system that puts people and planet over profits. We need and deserve a
world based upon cooperation, caring, and regeneration rather than exploitation and extraction.

Some may accuse me of being an idealistic, pie in the sky Millennial. But there are folks all across the world who understand this, and there are groups here in Humboldt working to create that new system.

Cooperation Humboldt is a group of people dedicated to the radical and simple idea that we can meet all our needs to not only survive but to thrive, and can do so without exploiting anyone or harming the ecosystems we are a part of.

We have created multiple program areas (Housing, Food, Education, Energy, Arts/Culture, Finance), each designed to plant the seed of this new system right here where we live, work, play and pray.

At Cooperation Humboldt, we know it is necessary to resist oppression and exploitation, and we must also build new institutions and systems that meet our needs. We are dedicated to educating and equipping ourselves with the skills and tools to do so. Our theory of change integrates resisting, building, and empowering. In doing so, we hope to inspire others to join us in creating the world we deserve.

It is daunting to think about the changes we are going to experience in the coming years. We must confront this sobering reality; without a concerted and radical effort to change our course, the forces of capitalism will continue to push us towards complete climate collapse.

In 1916, Rosa Luxemburg said that society stood at a crossroads. She said the path forward was either socialism or regression into barbarism. Today the stakes are infinitely higher than they were in her time. In 2019, it’s socialism or extinction. It’s time to make our choice.

You can learn more about concrete projects like Little Free Pantries, converting lawns to gardens, creating a local Food Forest, Public Banking, Housing Cooperatives, worker-owned cooperatives, etc. online at